The GAMES Program (Girls Advancing Mathematics, Engineering and Science) is an ambitious, broad-based effort to use the power of gaming to engage girls in middle school, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, as well as technology-related arts (we call it “STEM”). The specific initiative: to launch, by fall 2017, three commercial-quality video games that achieve the goal.
This is not the first effort of its kind, and it is true that so-called edutainment games have a spotty record, at best, in terms of reaching their ambitious goals. But this one promises to be different, given what we have learned and who is involved.
We are at a tipping point for getting girls engaged in gaming, and there is greater momentum than ever before for connecting girls and women to STEM – related careers. Fact: The Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles introduced a Game Design merit badge this year, and it goes beyond a similar merit badge introduced by the Boy Scouts, requiring girls to program as well as design their games.
Unlike a number of past efforts sponsored and funded by public entities, we are proposing a realistic game development timeline and philanthropic and federal funding sources to help ensure that the winning games are not just professional, but also scalable.
And GAMES already includes an impressive array of sponsors and participants. In addition to Northeastern University Seattle, the founding sponsors include the Institute for Systems Biology and the National Girls Collaborative Project, a consortium of “girl-serving” STEM organizations in over 40 states with over 7 million girls members across the United States.
More than two-dozen leaders from the worlds of game design, education, interactive media, science, business, and public service have committed to be actively involved in the GAMES Program.
The stakes are well known by now. America’s advancement in STEM education and STEM fields is the key to a robust innovation-based economy. But by the time they enter high school, most young women in America have lost interest in STEM fields, draining away the talent pool that the country needs, and depriving girls of rich opportunities to be tomorrow’s leaders in technology, engineering, and other STEM-related fields
Because girls were not engaged in science and mathematics at the right time in their lives, there may be diseases uncured and energy challenges unmet.
Follow along and contribute online with #GAMES4STEM .
Help us reverse the trend.
Video recap of the Launch event:
Thank you to the Seattle Channel for recording this event!
We are assembling a diverse team to stay engaged in the GAMES Initiative:
Are you ready to get involved? >> TELL US HERE
Check out this map below of our national collaboratives. Click for an expanded view.
Master of Science in Game Science and Design (coming Fall 2014)
Offered through the College of Computer and Information Science and the College of Arts, Media, and Design, the Master’s of Science in Games Science and Design degree is focused on the science of game development, specifically on understanding the players and measuring the products’ successes through players’ behaviors. The degree will weave the design and technology necessary to build a game, but focus on the playability and analytics to make the product successful, thus creating a coherent vision enabling students to understand the process of creating successful game products in a player-centric environment.
The degree consists of several areas of game development, including:
* Game Playability and Game Analytics encompass the Game Science aspects of this program. Game Technology denotes the computational aspects of the program. Game Design denotes the design aspect of the program.
Making the Next Generation of Educational Video Games
With the help of grants, academics and big data, developers are trying to transform the way kids are taught and tested
TIME.com, November 6, 2013
By Sarah Butrymowicz / The Hechinger Report
The video games that Kyle Brda, a ninth-grader from Redwood City, Calif., plays at home typically involve shooting people. But on a recent day in September, he spent the afternoon at an office building in Silicon Valley, constructing wind and solar power plants in a virtual world that may soon be accessible from his classroom.
Brda is one of 110 unpaid student testers at GlassLab, a nonprofit video game development group based at the California campus of publishing powerhouse Electronic Arts. The Gates and MacArthur Foundations gave GlassLab $10.3 million to create six educational video games they hope will change the way kids learn.
One reason the Puget Sound region stayed stronger than some surrounding areas during the economic downturn is because of its tech industry. A particular bright spot is the computer gaming and interactive media industry.
While this industry added only about 1,500 jobs between 2006 and 2011, the total number of companies in Washington state doubled, making computer gaming and interactive media a kind of entrepreneurial powerhouse with lots of potential for new jobs.
College STEM Majors Opting Out For Other Degrees
USA Today, September 19, 2013
by Cara Newlon
When 19-year-old Lesley Wright entered her freshman year at the University of Florida — Gainesville, she dreamed of being a pediatrician.
But she quickly realized she faced an uphill battle.
“Everyone already had volunteer positions at the local hospital by the time I got to UF, so there weren’t any even left when I applied,” Wright says. “Chemistry 1 is also a weed-out class, meaning it’s extra difficult and meant to determine who is cut out for the pre-med life. I failed first semester.”
Here’s Why Seattle — Not Silicon Valley — is the Gaming Industry’s Epicenter
GeekWire, September 17, 2013
by Taylor Soper
Many may know Seattle for its coffee, for the Space Needle, and — though slightly misinformed — the rain.
But another aspect of the Emerald City possibly overlooked is the budding gaming scene. From Microsoft to Valve all the way down to countless indie companies, Seattle is chalk-full of developers and designers putting out title after title.
Is a Career in STEM Really for Me?
An 8th grader ponders the options, finds science and engineering far down on the list
IEEE Spectrum, August 30, 2013
by Maura E. Charette
I just started eighth grade at a middle school in central Virginia. The school has an excellent reputation, particularly in math and science. Last year, it received national recognition for its STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program. I enjoy science and math, and I get straight As in those subjects. People tell me that future employers will be falling all over themselves to hire me if I pursue a career in STEM.
The STEM Crisis Is a Myth
Forget the dire predictions of a looming shortfall of scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians
IEEE Spectrum, August 30, 2013
by Robert N. Charette
You must have seen the warning a thousand times: Too few young people study scientific or technical subjects, businesses can’t find enough workers in those fields, and the country’s competitive edge is threatened.
It pretty much doesn’t matter what country you’re talking about—the United States is facing this crisis, as is Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia, China,Brazil, South Africa, Singapore, India…the list goes on.
MIT Unleashes New Online Game for Math and Science
National Public Radio, August 28, 2013
by Katrina Schwartz
As the buzz around games and learning continues to grow, one particular subset — Massive Open Online (MMO) games — is catching the attention of educators as a particularly interesting way to encourage students to collaborate, problem solve, create and think for themselves within a game.
A decade ago, the term “game analytics” would have meant little even to those well versed in the fields of technology and interactive games. Back then, the trail of digital breadcrumbs left by players as they navigated through games did not play a major role in game development. But alongside the rapid growth of social media, handheld devices, and big-data tracking and analysis, a revolution in the world of interactive games has taken shape that matches the big-data-driven paradigm shift in IT.
Games to Keep Teenage Girls Enthralled with Math, Science
A group of Seattle-area educators and electronic-game developers have started working on a game to keep teenage girls engaged in math and science.
The Seattle Time, June 30, 2013
by Katherine Long
Consider, for a moment, the possibility of a completely addictive electronic game that had a more noble objective than destroying pigs with slingshot-flung birds or traveling through post-apocalyptic wastelands.
What about a game that was geared toward teen girls — a free game that kept them engrossed in math and science, nudging them toward careers in those fields, at that very time in their lives when they start to lose interest?
Why the Next Mark Zuckerberg Currently Won’t Be Female
The Guardian, July 23, 2013
By Belinda Parmar
Family Develops iPad Game to Inspire Young Girls to Love Math
Venturebeat.com, July 22, 2013
By Christina Farr
Kathryn and David Clarke got the idea for a math practice game when their daughters were in middle school, and struggling with numbers. Decades later, they have released the game on the App Store, and it’s designed for every young girl to excel in science and math.
The iPad game, Mission: Math … Sabotage at the Space Station, remains a family-run operation, with father David recently joining the company Kata Enterprises full-time. The complete game is available to download for $7.99, without in-app purchases.
It Takes Women Working on Games for Games to Change
Gamasutra.com, July 16, 2013
By Kris Ligman
Siobhan Reddy believes women are underestimated as a productive force in the games industry. “There are all sorts of discussions about where it is now and where it has been,” she tells BBC Radio 4. “[The scarcity of women in the field] is one that I’d really like to see us solve.”
“There are some sad statistics which are that by the time girls are in Year 8 they’ve been put off working in tech or in games, whether in the home or by a teacher or by friends,” she continues. “We really need to be looking at how we can encourage women to see games as an exciting industry…”
There’s no shortage of explanations for the so-called crisis in the humanities, and more have come to light since the publication of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ recent “Heart of the Matter” report on the topic.
But one higher education blogger’s unconventional explanation – that the humanities drain is more about women’s equality than a devaluation of the humanities – is gaining particular interest from longtime advocates of the humanities, as well as some criticism.
Washington State has long boasted some technology titans. Over time, the state has also built up a critical mass of professionals and educators passionate about sharing the power of science and technology careers — particularly computer science — with a new generation.
But for many years, progress was slow or even backwards. The dot-com bust in 2001 was followed by a sharp drop in interest and enrollment in CS programs, with little subsequent improvement for nearly a decade.
Fans Take Videogame Damsels Out of Distress, Put them in Charge
Players Rewrite Story Lines to Highlight Heroines; Princess Peach Saves Mario
The Wall Street Journal, July 3, 2013
by Ian Sherr
Playing “Donkey Kong” this spring, Mike Mika’s 3-year-old daughter Ellis asked him why it is always the mustached Mario who saves Pauline, the damsel in a pink dress who gets kidnapped by a gorilla.
The game has no option for the girl to save the boy. It just works like that, the dad told his daughter. “She was bummed out,” he says.
So Mr. Mika, a 39-year-old videogame developer in Emeryville, Calif., hacked the classic game’s software to make the damsel into a heroine who saves the plumber Mario. He published his version, dubbed “Donkey Kong: Pauline Edition,” online, where it has been downloaded more than 11,000 times since it was posted in March.
The State of Girls and Women in STEM
National Girls Girls Collaborative Project
In the school years K-12, girls and boys do not significantly differ in their abilities in mathematics and science, but do differ in their interest and confidence in STEM subjects. Male students are over three times more likely to be interested in STEM majors and careers, compared to female students.
More Women Pick Computer Science if Media Nix Outdated ‘Nerd’ Stereotype
University Herald, June 26, 2013
University of Washington
University of Washington psychologist Sapna Cheryan wanted to know if gendered stereotypes had any effect on young women’s interest in becoming computer scientists. Specifically, she and colleagues studied whether the stereotypical view of the geeky male nerd so often portrayed in the media, most recently in CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” discouraged women from pursuing computer science degrees.
Actually, About Half of Gamers Are Women
Ms. blog, June 13, 2013
by Ponta Abadi
A new study, “2013 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry,” reports that women make up 45 percent of all gamers and 46 percent of all “habitual video game purchasers.” In fact, adult women make up 31 percent of the video game population and boys under 17 only make up 19 percent. And in a study by Magid Advisors of people ages 45 to 64, about 61 percent of women play video games compared with only 57 percent of men.
The Hidden STEM Economy
Brookings Institute, June 10, 2013
by Jonathan Rothwell
Workers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields play a direct role in driving economic growth. Yet, because of how the STEM economy has been defined, policymakers have mainly focused on supporting workers with at least a bachelor’s (BA) degree, overlooking a strong potential workforce of those with less education but substantial STEM skill.
A new report from the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program presents a new and more rigorous way to define STEM occupations, and in doing so presents a new portrait of the STEM economy.
Study: Women Don’t Choose STEM Careers Despite Their Skills
Tech Page One, May 3, 2013
by Samantha Bonar
There are still relatively few women in tech. Maria Klawe wants to change that. As president of Harvey Mudd College, a science and engineering school in Southern California, she’s had stunning success getting more women involved in computing.
The purpose of this study was to compare the competitiveness of the cities which are considered the top Interactive Media hubs in the United States.
It was found that three cities rank in the top tier of the world’s leading regions in Interactive Media: Seattle, San Francisco, and San Jose. The interactive media industry includes computer game development, casual games, social games, mobile applications, and related activities.
Of these top tier regions, this study finds the Seattle area among the most competitive in the United States and the world for growth in the Interactive Media sector.
Mobile Video Blog Exchange : Learning Media for Children in Underserved Communities
Stanford University, 2011
By Dr. Paul, Kim
The current trends in social network media, coupled with increasingly advanced and ubiquitous mobile technology, point towards great potential for their use in learning support and in “deconstructing the digital divide.” This project explores how a mobile video blogging model embedded in a learning support community can address the learning needs of underperforming students of low socioeconomic status. In this project, various mobile video recording approaches were analyzed, and some blogging strategies were linked to higher learning outcomes. Although a few challenges and issues were identified, the mobile video blogging community was generally found to be a viable learning support tool for children in underserved communities.
What Has Driven Women Out of Computer Science?
The New York Times, November 15, 2008
By Randall Stross
Ellen Spertus, a graduate student at M.I.T., wondered why the computer camp she had attended as a girl had a boy-girl ratio of six to one. And why were only 20 percent of computer science undergraduates at M.I.T. female? She published a 124-page paper, “Why Are There So Few Female Computer Scientists?”, that catalogued different cultural biases that discouraged girls and women from pursuing a career in the field. The year was 1991.
>> Read the full report here